The saint lake Yehai Lake in Lintan county, Gannan Tibet autonomous prefecture of Northwest China's Gansu province.[Photo by Yang Yang/China Daily]
Tired of being notorious for the lack of care for their surroundings, Tibetan townsfolk clean up their act and gain acclaim, tourism success and better lives.
IT'S A BRILLIANTLY SUNNY DAY, and as voluminous white clouds float across a blue sky that seems almost within hand's reach, black yaks and white sheep enjoy the bounty of the fields below.
We are in Gannan Tibet autonomous prefecture northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, about 3,000 meters above sea level, with neighboring Qinghai province to the west and Sichuan to the south.
Thirty-five years after the renowned anthropologist Fei Xiaotong visited Gannan for six days and wrote a highly influential essay about all he had found, I'm here for six days, too, to see what has changed in the intervening years.
Gannan plays an important role in China's ecosystem, lying in the watershed of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River.
The topography is in marked contrast to what you might have expected to find this far north. Instead of the usual loess, deserts or semi-deserts, what greets the eyes are rich green grasslands resembling beautifully cared-for plush carpets that stretch as far as the eye can see.
For those who dislike the seething summer heat prevalent in many parts of China, Gannan is an ideal retreat, the daily maximum temperature from June to August being about 20 C, and the minimum about 0 C.